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Friend with toddler confirmed as likely to be autistic

(19 Posts)
tazmo Wed 20-Mar-13 16:49:06

I have 2 friends that got together, tried to have kids 4 times with ivf. Eventually had a child despite a couple of miscarriages but my friend has really not coped with motherhood and before knowing her son was autistic, has kind of been cancelling on me when we are due to meet up and I've heard from my other friends (who are all childless) that I make her feel inadequate because I've coped with motherhood and she can't cope with seeing me too often with 3 healthy children.

In our GP of friends, we suspected her son was autistic and it is confirmed. We went for lunch to say bye to a friend who is going to Brussels and she told us this as her news (which was not really a surprise). I told her to let us know if she wanted help etc and we'd baby sit if she needed a break with her husband etc. but out of this lunch, I literally feel like she's not talking to me. I spoke to her husband about a job we had in our company (her hubby was made redundant) and once we'd finished, I asked if my friend was in and wanted a chat but her dh came up with excuses as to why she couldn't. Quite frankly, I'm getting hacked off. Yes she is having the worst time of her life, but she cannot speak to me because of my seemingly perfect life (which albeit it isn't and I could've done with a good chat in the last year or so - but this has been going on for over a year and don't know whether I should bother anymore!). I jus feel what is the point if she cannot seem to speak to me, get in touch with me and won't meet up with me (unless our childless friends are there?). We've know each other since we were 17 - we are now 42! I really feel for her but she seems to have severed all contact. My childless friends say they don't think she is doing this and that she is just depressed.

Does anyone have experience of going in a deep depression when they found their children had a disability or autism amd did your friendships ever recover? Or should I let go......

Catchingmockingbirds Wed 20-Mar-13 17:04:55

The first year after a diagnosis is the hardest, you go through a grieving process. My son was diagnosed 7 months ago and I still have days when I want to stay in bed all day and not talk to anyone.

zumbaleena Wed 20-Mar-13 17:08:19

ugh! yes....I can say 100% she is probably feeling in depression. It is v v hard and as friends...pls try toreach out to her. just drop a line. e-mail or fb pm message. she is really feeling lonely. I almost lost a friend by keeping quiet.

LimboLil Wed 20-Mar-13 17:26:15

Be patient. I am guilty of it too. I certainly don't think my friends have perfect lives though, but you can't know what this is like unless you are in it. I lost a parent and got diagnosis all within 2 months and time has whizz whizzed by n a blur and I am very aware that I have lost touch with friends and look through people on school run etc but it's not deliberate

cansu Wed 20-Mar-13 17:37:33

It is very hard to be around people whose children are normally functioning. Your friend will be grieving for the child she thought she had and will be absolutely terrified of the future. I very nearly had a nervous breakdown when my ds was diagnosed. I drifted away from my sister who has lovely NT children. I used to leave the room at work with an excuse when someone was talking about something funny that their dc had said because I was completely heartbroken. I used to have panic attacks and felt I could barely say the word autism without starting to panic and cry. I am a strong person and I kept all of this hidden. My family still believe I am this tower of strength type who copes brilliantly. If you are a real friend you should give your friend some time and be sensitive to how she is feeling. my ds is now 11 and there are still times when I cry about how our lives have turned out. Everyone thinks of autism as meaning they are a bit quirky or they are like rainman.there are lots of degrees between that. My own ds doesn't talk and never will and will need 24 hour care all his life. He will never live independently. Imagine that for a few minutes and cut her lots and lots of slack.

babiki Wed 20-Mar-13 18:19:55

It is very hard. Don't have demands on her, just let her know you will be ok if she takes her time in being 'actively' friendly again.
I remember I felt as other people's problems are laughable; how could somebody with NT children understand what is happening; it is as though my whole world has been shattered. I did lose one friend like this, she got upset I didn't pick up her calls often enough, but she was in a habit of calling very often and going on for hours; I just did not have the energy for it - I was in a survival mode.
Don't take it personally, she will come out of the other end, it might take longer than you think.
I still have days that I just don't want to see my friend's NT kids, although I love them - but it is just SO painful.
You are really lovely for thinking about it btw!

I wasn't depressed post dx but I found it very difficult to be around children of the same age - especially in pre-school years. You may not have a child of the same age mind. There were a couple of friends i could manage who always said the right thing but it was hard.

Think of it as a grieving process. Given everything she's been through as well to get her little boy it must be even harder than usual. Is she in contact with others in the same situation? That can be enormously helpful.

rundontwalk Wed 20-Mar-13 18:32:16

Although I managed to keep in touch with my closest friends,there were times when I just couldn't face them. I lost touch with any new 'mummy friends' as the direct comparisons were just too painful.

It took me 3yrs to get counseling for what turned out to be PTSD.

I still cry at home after birthday parties,but I'm in a totally different place.

Please give your friend time & cut her lots of slack.

tazmo Wed 20-Mar-13 18:36:38

Hi I don't know if she is seeing anyone in a similar situation. It's been a long hard slog the past 5 years or so (we both had to go thru ivf to get kids so I understand that bit at least). She fell out with another friend on her 40 th because she was being insensitive and they had an argy Barry in the street. They still don't talk. She was depressed from day 1 post birth (I had pnd too so I understood that bit too but must admit I get over that - she has been on antidepressants and has had CBT. Offered to go over more times than she has taken me up on and we went to centerparcs with her ds was about 6 months but she was bad then, couldn't stand him crying etc.

It was when I had dd3 she started avoiding me as she wanted another but her husband said no because of the issues with her ds. This was all before they got the official diagnosis. She couldn't cope with the thought of seeing me with a new born so must admit I was angry then as I had a crappy month after dd3 was born. But the only reason I know what is going on is because her dh is a friend of ours and he has no family now and needs his friends to speak to because she has been so depressed. I don't know - well see how it pans out.

She has always been a bit depressive. After uni, she didn't talk to me for about 3 years because she had a breakdown during finals and felt it was cos I made too much noise in the room next door!

Also bear in mind given how young he is being dxed it is possible (definitely not a certainty but possible) that he will end up being severely affected.

She may find it easier to meet up without children if any of yours are the same age. Or even anyway if he struggles to access typical kid activities. I think every time we tried a trip out with 3 year old ds1 we'd return home in stony silence or with me sobbing quietly. It was truly an awful time.

Oh sorry cross posted. It does all sound very difficult - but I think just bear in mind it's very very hard even without mental health issues. I've never been depressed in my life & had a very easy first year with ds1 who was a dream baby, loved motherhood but the early autism years were really tough. I still have moments now - it was hard a few years ago watching all ds1's peers go to secondary school and I stayed off facebook for a few days - and I have 2 NT kids who are doing all the typical stuff.

zzzzz Wed 20-Mar-13 19:28:08

Perhaps you just have less in common than you think?

If her dh is shielding her from your calls it seems likely that she doesn't find your conversations easy. If may be nothing to do with her sons dx. She may not be jealous of your family at all, she may just find the kind of socialising you want to do with your 3 nt children is just not suited to her one more sensitive child.

The history with the breakdown and your noise might point to her finding you a little overwhelming.

mrslaughan Wed 20-Mar-13 19:30:01

Just imagine.....you dream of having children, the perfect family.....you do everything in your power to have said children (I did IVF once and said I wouldn't do it again), but then the reality comes as a terrible shock, PND, then things don't seem quite right, then you realise that your child is "different", but probably hope that that will change, he will catch up, you want to have another child - probably partly so she can have a "normal" one - but that takes agreement from your husband and he says no, then you get the official diagnosis, and realise your child will never be "normal", whatever normal is.
She is grieving - for her dreams and hope and the life she thought she would have.
On top of all this grieving she probably constantly feels judged, she's at the supermarket, her child performs - she gets "tssked" at - tell her how to parent, as everyone is a fucking expert, you are the parent of "that" child at school, all you need to do is read the "SN" threads on the main board to see how small minded and cruel people will be. (people complain at a childrens play that a child is flapping, people saying that parents are getting there kids diagnosed just to get more benefits - it fucking beggers belief)

It is not personal against you - so don't take it personally, hopefully at some stage her barriers will come (the barriers she has built to deal with it all), and I hope you will be there for her, un-judgemental, supportive and understanding.

tazmo Wed 20-Mar-13 20:31:54

Well zzzzzzzzz maybe you are so right - hence shd I let go? I never see her these days tho her hubby did ask me to arrange a spa day and shed prob go along.... But am losing the will myself.......obviously one of my oldest friends but she has always been generally anxious. I can't do anything if she won't see me!!!!!!

bialystockandbloom Wed 20-Mar-13 20:44:56

Not going to say what I really want to but if you do care about her, give her time and try to understand what she's going through.

Until it's happened to you, most people (through no fault of their own) cannot understand what it's like to have a child diagnosed with autism. Some make the effort to try and understand though - and that makes all the difference. Even if you can't actually imagine what she's feeling, the fact that you would try to understand is important.

If you'd rather "let go" however, do so - it's not helping her in the long term to try and cling on to a friendship under unnatural circumstances.

When I knew for sure (before official diagnosis) that my ds had autism it was the worst thing that had ever happened to me. It's much better now, 3 years later, but at the time it was my worst possible fears confirmed. I think your other friends who tell you she's depressed are most probably right. It's about her and what she's going through - not you.

zzzzz Wed 20-Mar-13 22:25:25

I don't really understand why you have to "let go" or not?

Can't you just carry on seeing her with your childless friends?

It seems that's the level of intimacy she's looking for ATM.

You do seem to be quite negetive about her parenting, how she chooses to socialise, even how we is recovering from PND. None of that is really anything to do with what sort of friendship you have.

LimboLil Wed 20-Mar-13 22:33:40

I think the nature of friendship changes as you get older anyway. Maybe just accept that things have moved on a bit and keep in touch from time time with no pressure or strings attached. I personally love the type of friend who you can say ring you back in 5 minutes and for whatever reason 5 minutes turns into 5 days or weeks even and then you do ring back and everything's fine and you pick up where you left off. Friends who want to be in and out my house every five minutes or get all needy or sulky if I'm doing my own thing drive me crazy I am an unsociable moo though

Peppapigisnotmyname Thu 21-Mar-13 14:39:44

My DS is 8 and has ASD. I was concerned about his development at around the age of 2, no speech, in his own world etc. He was diagnosed at 5, is statemented and is doing well now in mainstream school.

When he was younger though, I was desperate as I couldn't see a way forward and I was incredibly worried about what was going to happen to him. I voiced my worries to a very good friend of mine with a DS of the same age. She reassured me but when it became clear that there was an issue with my DS she dropped me and my DS like a hot potato. She just completely vanished from our lives and I was very hurt. Ignored my texts, calls etc even moved house but didnt let me know her new address. My DS still remembers her and asks what happened to her!

Dx is very hard, I had known for a couple of years before it was confirmed. Was still incredibly hard though and I wept for my DS and for the rest of us. Thankfully he is dong so well, just got his green belt in karate, good swimmer etc, things I never thought he'd achieve in those dark days after dx. I still sometimes think of my 'friend' and wonder why she cut me and my DS out when she realised he had ASD.... He's a gorgeous, polite, good mannered, sensitive boy smile yet it seems that she couldn't see that ........ sad

Toni27 Sun 24-Mar-13 22:36:11

One of the kindest things a friend with NT children has ever done for me is to hunt for toys that may be helpful for my autistic son, she found some great sensory toys and visual aids on the Internet and text me asking if it was okay to buy them for my son if I thought it may help him, she was so worried she would cause offence but I told her quite the opposite, I was so pleased she had took a deep interest in my sons autism. She bought them for my son and that was the most supportive thing any of my friends have done for me. She's always ringing up aswell and asks after my son and how he's getting on and how I am with everything and it really helps me. May be if you found some little sensory things to buy for her child and text her about it she may feel you are supporting her? Just an idea cos I so appreciated the kind gesture from my friend. X

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